Overall, I love this school, but I can also recognize that it is not for everyone. If you want to party six days a week, don'...
Overall, I love this school, but I can also recognize that it is not for everyone. If you want to party six days a week, don't come here. If you want to do as little work possible, don't come here. If you want to take classes specifically in your major and nothing else, don't come here. If you want a really warm, fuzzy, hand holding experience with the faculty, don't come here. If you want a cheap education, don't come here. All of that being said, there are SO MANY reasons to come here. If you want an intellectually diverse student body, come here. If you want to go to parties and be able to do a keg stand while discussing Kant, come here. If you want professors that are honest with you, push you, and who really help you grow (not just give you grades), come here. If you want a school that provides amazing job resources and opportunities, come here. If you want to go to school in one of the best cities in the world, come here. If you want a school where people care about ideas and have conviction in their beliefs, come here. If you want to come out of your college experience feeling a little worn down but a million times smarter and more developed, COME HERE.
Clubs/organizations: I personally am not overly involved in student clubs on campus (We call them "RSOs" for Registered Student Organizations) but this mainly has to do with my personality type. (Not especially a "joiner".) However, I still feel very involved with campus, because most campus events are open to everyone and organizations are always welcoming new members. Especially popular groups on campus are University Theater, Women in Business, Peer Health Exchange, Model UN, just to name a few. (THERE ARE A TON.) This is one of the things I love about Chicago, if you want to join a club, they are always there, but there is no pressure if they are not really your thing. Dorm Life: Dorms sort of develop their own personalities. The college is divided into houses...your house (think Harry Potter...) consists of the people you live and eat with. You can be as involved or uninvolved with house activities as you want. We have house tables in the dining halls so you almost never have to sit alone. Your house sponsors trips and activities such as going out to dinner, going to see shows, and movie nights, so if you are kind of shy at making your friends on your own this is a good way to get to know people. It depends on the night as to whether or not doors are open or closed or if people are being rowdy or quiet. (Most of the time pretty quiet...) Everyone feels very safe leaving their doors unlocked, and it is not unusual to have a random techno-music study break in the hall at 2:00 in the morning. Dating/Social Scene: I think that the dating is pretty typical of any college campus. There are people who date exclusively, there are people who hook up casually, there are people that are seemingly asexual. People party Friday and Saturday nights (this is probably my biggest complaint about the school....It would be nice to have the option of going out more than one or two nights a week, but oh well) Parties are usually held at the frat houses or apartments around campus...word generally travels by mouth. Most of the frats charge a $5 cover to cover alcohol costs, which I found unusual, but apparently it is to make up for the low dues of being a member here. I know a lot of people involved in Greek life, though I think that is the nature of being someone who likes to go out a fair amount, because officially only somewhere around 10% of the student body is affiliated. I am not personally, but my best friend is, and they are generally very welcoming at the parties. When we go off campus pretty much we eat, eat, eat. There is SO much good food in Chicago and so many diverse neighborhoods. The dining halls close at 2:30 on Saturdays, so we usually use that as a day to go out and explore the city and have dinner. We also hit up museums and shows....though it takes at least an hour to get anywhere on public transportation so sometimes laziness gets the best of us. Overall, the social life is what you want it to be, but there is no way to get around how much studying is necessary at this school. That being said, I have found some of the best friends in the world here, so even when I'm in the library in the middle of the night working on a terrible paper it is hard to be miserable.
It really is a melting pot here. Students are generally very accepting of one another (at least I have never had an experience to indicate otherwise.) Students are from all over the world (the student body is something like 20% international). The most prominent religion on campus seems to be Judaism, though there are a variety of religious groups on campus. When it comes to politics it is hard to say, though I am inclined to say that the student body is predominantly center. People enjoy playing devil's advocate too much to only loyal to the extreme of one side. This being said, because of our age group most people are fairly socially liberal. What people wear to class is completely random...we have full on fashionistas (especially male ones, surprisingly enough) but the common UChicago uniform is jeans and some form of school spirited apparel. We are not an overly fashion conscious school, nor overly name-brand or designer oriented. If that's what you're in to, you can find it, but there certainly isn't any competition about what you wear as opposed to some schools. Because of this, it is often hard to tell the financial backgrounds of the students--there is little need to talk about it.
The academic experience here probably really does depend on your major. Professors have known my name in every class I have taken thus far, and go out of their way to be available to students for extra help. Classes are hard...this is definitely a place to be if you get some kind of sick joy out of writing papers. Class participation is not only common but oftentimes a required part of your grade (again depends on the subject area though, clearly philosophy classes require more discussion than statistics.) Students most certainly have intellectual conversations out of class...it is really nicely woven in with more casual conversation. You do get the odd kid every once in a while who is super competitive (we like to refer to them as "that kid"), but people are far more supportive of one another than you may expect. None of the talk about the work load is meant to scare anyone away. I came to school quaking in my boots for fear of the piles of coursework I had been assured I would receive here, but overall I find it to be pretty easy to manage. Once you find your own "academic rhythm" so to speak (i.e. whether you are a crammer or need more organized study time) it's easy to feel like you have things under control.
There typical stereotype for UChicago would definitely be "nerd." Or, "super nerd." Everyone has heard the famous slogans such as "Where fun comes to die" or my personal favorite, "Where the squirrels are prettier than the girls." I'll be honest, there are reasons why those stereotypes exist....they are based on truth...we study here, A LOT. That being said, I have been consistently impressed with the diversity in the student body despite the very clear cut UChicago "type." There are jocks (they mostly stick together), hipsters, nerds, stoners, divas, and etc. etc. and a mix of everything above. What's more, everyone is here for a reason...because they are SMART, so even if they do fit into a certain stereotype it is easy to have a meaningful conversation with anyone.
Your closest friends will be your housemates. The system is built, it seems, to force interaction between the stereotypical s...
Your closest friends will be your housemates. The system is built, it seems, to force interaction between the stereotypical socially reclusive Chicago students, but it works to form close friendships and make the medium sized university feel small. I love that I can walk down the hall to my house lounge and always find a friend to procrastinate with or go to the dining hall by myself and always find someone at the house table to have a conversation with. Greek life is much bigger than I thought before I came here, but is not at all dominent. I'd say the majority of people I know went to frat parties first week and only return when there's nothing better to do. Apartment parties are a common weekend activity if you know upperclassmen. There's always a million things happening Friday and Saturday nights, though two frats host events every Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, as well. For non-drinkers, there's always a show or a concert or some sort of activity going on. I'd say I know more people who drink then who don't drink, but there is never any pressure to drink or a feeling that one won't have fun if one doesn't drink.
Everyone here is bright and interesting. Some kids fit the socially awkward stereotype, some are so jock-like you can't believe they're at U of C. I'd say there's a wide range of kids. The big groups I can pick out seem to be the hipsters, who seem to multiply every quarter. You can find them smoking clove cigarettes outside Cobb Coffee shop. The others seem to be Econ majors, who are universally vilified to hoping to make money after graduation instead of sacrificing themselves to the god of academia, as is traditional. They may tend to be a little prepier than the rest of the student body and often make up a fair proportion of the frats. No one cares how you dress here. Jeans and tshirts are prevalent. Sure, some people dress nice most of the quarter but come finals it is all sweats, all the time. Politically, I'd say the campus leans right, though the tradition of the Chicago school certainly lives on. You'll meet a lot of fiscal conservatives, but the social conservatives are harder to find. The campus isn't too political overall though the College Dems and Republicans and strong, fairly large organizations and all my friends, at least, enjoy talking about current events.
We're renowned for being difficult. It's true. Don't come to Uchicago unless you're willing to put in serious library time. Grade deflation is a fact of like though it's widely said that grad schools know this and consider our gpas seperatley. I came to U ofC unsure how I felt about the Core, but I now love it. My classes have been great foundations for anything else I do academically. Core classes are kept small, which is nice. The best change from high school has been that everyone here is engaged in the material and in learning. Everyone's a geek. Intellectual discussions outside of class are prevalent. The whole "Life of the Mind" campaign the admissions office has been putting out is true-- we don't just discuss Occupy Wall Street here, we discuss it as relating to Marxist revolutionary theory. Academics are everywhere here
U of C is known for workaholic, socially incompetent geeks. What you're more likely to find, however, is a mass of smart kids across the social competency scale. Sure, there are some kids who look like they could be on the Big Bang Theory. But there are also sorority girls who could be on Greek. The great thing about Chicago is that everyone you meet, no matter what they look like, ends up being smart and interesting -- otherwise they wouldn't have gotten in!
So the biggest thing I talk about with new students is that the classes are hard. People usually complain about the amount of...
So the biggest thing I talk about with new students is that the classes are hard. People usually complain about the amount of work that they have and how busy they are. But I think that at every college, you will be challenged and our school prepares you for anything. I spend most of my time in my dorm or at the library when I am not working or at club meetings during the week. But on the weekends, I am downtown, at friends’ apartments and just having fun. The only thing though, is that it is really cold in the winters, but all the free hot chocolate our school provides will make up for it. Despite all this though, I think that the University of Chicago has a lot of the great features that any student would want. We are near a big city, which is easy to get to with public transportation. Chicago is a beautiful city with great shopping, restaurants and other features that any person would fall in love. The class sizes are a perfect size so that you get a lot of attention from your teachers when you need help. There are a lot of resources to help you, whether it is with finding a job or with your homework. U.Chicago has over 300 student organizations in every single imaginable interest you may have and there you will meet some of your best friends Did I also mention that we have $1 Milkshake day every single Wednesday? Yeah, it’s great.
There are multiple groups on campus and they are separated into different sectors. Multicultural groups are some of the most fun to get involved with and I am involved with PanAsia. Through this group, I have gotten to meet with artists and stars from all over the world and bring them to U.Chicago to celebrate Asian American culture. We have a lot of greek life on campus as well and they host parties, fundraisers and events for the schools. My friends who are in these programs really love it and say that they have met life long friends there. Our fraternity brothers and sorority sisters are not like those at other schools though because they do mingle with other students and meet the high standard that our school sets for academics. Pre-professional programs are also very common in different kinds of jobs. Finance, consulting, marketing, medicine and another progressional all have groups on campus that give relevant experience to our major since we are a liberal arts school. I am involved with one called Eckhart Consulting and I have gotten to do consulting work for a number of different clients in the city of Chicago. We also just have a bunch of different organizations such as MUN, Mock Trial, Debate, and Student Government. We also have many clubs started that are for entrepreneurship and for those interest in sports. Bascialy, there are a million things to do on campus and when you are not participating in clubs, you can do other things. On a typical Saturday night, there are parties where you can go drink and be social. But for those who don't want to drink or want to party in a different setting, there are other things. We have Doc, which provides cheap movie screenings of recent movies every weekend and people go out to dinner in all kinds of places such as Chinatown or downtown. We can go shopping or just hang out with friends at people's apartments. People go to the Chicago Theater for shows and on weekends, our school hosts large events such as a Spring Carnival, concerts with Wale and sports games. You name it, you can do it at U.Chicago.
The best part of the University of Chicago is the diversity of students that you get to meet. We have a large portion of international students and students of all races. In fact, our school really provides resources for every kind of student. We have 3-4 churches and synagogues on campus, with trips to mosques on the weekends for people to stay religious on campus. We have 50 or so multi-cultural organizations for every race and each holds some kind of show every year. We have 5710, a center for multicultural students and LGBTQ students as well. We have a great financial aid program to help any student with financial needs as well as many work-study jobs. Different students interact all the time as my friends are from all over and have all different kinds of hobbies. This is due to the housing system that puts a diverse group of students together and gives them opportunities to get to know each other. If you want to be politically active, we have multiple club to do that, as well as many opportunities in the city to do so.
Class participation usually comes down to 3-5 students in each class with some people participating once in a while. Each class will have a "That kid" which is a person who talks for the sake of talking and our classes usually bond because of that person. I think that that is a good example of how important academics is to U.Chicago. People here study a lot, with many people living in the library during Finals Week. The students are very competitive, but it is more competition against the class then with other students. Anywhere, you will find people willing to help and and the school provides free tutors. As an Economics Major, I am a student who has problem sets each week and takes some of he most challenging classes in the school. Some interesting classes I have gotten to take though, have been outside my major for the Core. The COre is a set of classes each students has to take such as humanities, civilizations, math and science. I got to take "The History of Natural Deserts" which was really fun and I even got to study abroad to get credits for my major. The school is a liberal arts school, but there is a lot of preparation for people to get jobs afterwards, although many people go to Grad School. People here just really enjoy learning and will spend time to do so because they study for the purpose to learn more, not for a grade.
I recently found a website that ranked schools based on "The Number of Nerdiest Students." Needless to say, the University of Chicago was ranked number one. U.Chicago is supposedly known for having students that love to spend time in the library and in conversations with their friends, discuss the thoughts of Plato and Aristotle. We are known to only study and not participate in school activities or sports. In fact, it seems like people think that people who graduate don't find jobs because we don't have pre-professional majors like Finance or Engineering. All of these things are true, but that isn't the average U.Chicago student. I would be lying if I said that I had never walked buy a lunch table that had students fervently arguing about a humanities subject, but that doesn't mean that everyone does. In fact, it isn't that students at the University of Chicago like to spend time in the library, but it is more that we like to learn and accept the challenges that our professors pose on us. We may not have the best sports team, but our sports team dominate our division. We have one of the best women Volleyball teams in our division and our schools has one of the best Intramural sports programs that hundreds of students participate in. We have school formals, an active greek life and parties every weekend! Our housing system allows for people to make great friends and we have hundreds of student organizations for every kind of person. As for the rumor about pre-professional majors, yes, we are a liberal arts school. But that doesn't mean we graduate without jobs. In fact, the top corporations come recruit from our student population because we have been taught to learn quickly and to think differently from our peers at other schools. U.Chicago students know how to face a challenge and that is why we dominate in school and once we graduate as well, whether it is in Grad School or in the work force. In fact, U.Chicago has the #1 Business School (Booth School of Business) and amazing Medical and Law schools as well that love to recruit from the undergraduate program. So in all, yes we are nerdy. But we welcome every kind of person. Whether you think you will be a frat brother, a nerd, a jock, or a class clown, we welcome you. The University of Chicago is for every kind of person and we love to prove our stereotype wrong!
For the longest time, UChicago was known as the place "Where fun comes to die." The stereotypical student was nerdy, unattrac...
For the longest time, UChicago was known as the place "Where fun comes to die." The stereotypical student was nerdy, unattractive, and socially awkward. This may have been true in the past, but things have changed in the last few years. There is a new admissions director and high schoolers apply using the Common App, so as a result the student body as a whole has become more socially diverse.
I would not prefer to be at any other school. UChicago provides its students with small classes with lots of personal attenti...
I would not prefer to be at any other school. UChicago provides its students with small classes with lots of personal attention, a diverse and interesting city, a student body committed to intellectual pursuits, a beautiful neogothic campus, an outstanding academic reputation, and passionate administrators with the utmost respect for their students. All that being said, Chicago offers a unique undergraduate experience and it is definitely not for everyone. Chicago is not a "ra ra" school, the students do not feel passionately about its athletic events and students do not party 7 nights a week. For social and intellectual students though, there is a social scene at Chicago. There is a growing Greek life that offers parties to students Greek affiliated and independent. Similarly, while others schools almost demand that their students go Greek in order to have a social life, this is far from necessary at UChicago. Chicago's unique house system also fosters inter-house bonding, especially helpful to those students who are less outgoing. Further, the winters in Chicago are not for the faint of heart. A month of weather hovering around 0 degrees Fahrenheit calls for a student committed to this unique experience.
While students are involved in all kinds of RSO's (registered student organizations) the two I am most involved in are Peer Health Exchange (and organization that has college students teach health to 9th grade students in Chicago) and my sorority. The students do not take their commitments lightly. My Peer Health Exchange group meets at least once a week as well as teaching once a week. Greek life, while it is growing quickly at Chicago, still allows its students to be as involved as they want to be; a student can do the bare minimum, and just go to chapter meetings once a week, or take on leadership roles, go to every mixer, etc. Because of the house system at Chicago, students often bond heavily with the students in there house and often socialize in their dorm. Students often take advantage of being 20 min from downtown Chicago by going shopping, seeing shows, going to bars, going to concerts, etc. A social person at Chicago probably goes out 3 times a week, but it is definitely not the type of school where there are parties every night of the week.
UChicago is not a conservative school. The students tend to be pretty politically liberal, openminded, and progressive. Chicago is extremely diverse in terms of race, LGBT, and socio-economic background. While students are respectful at Chicago, they will question your beliefs. Admittedly, there are not a ton of highly religious students at Chicago, but they do actively think about and defend their beliefs. There is a high portion of students from the midwest, but Chicago draws students from around the world. Because of the highly academic nature of Chicago (and the cold), class is anything but a fashion contest. As students typically eat with their house in the dining hall, a diverse group of students are often thrown together and not grouped by race, socio-economic background, where they are from, etc.
Chicago has an extensive core curriculum, and because the undergraduate school is not divided into "schools" and is simply "the College" each UChicago student has to fulfill the same requirements. Even in these first and second year classes, however, the class sizes are very small. Every professor I have had thus far in my undergraduate experience has known my name and most of my classes have been heavily discussion based. The small class sizes and sincere interest professors take in their students make it difficult for a student to skip class often or fall very behind. Chicago is also known for being extremely difficult. In my experience, Chicago has lived up to its reputation in this regard. The quarter system at Chicago forces classes to move swiftly and demand students work incredibly hard. While undergrad at Chicago is anything but easy academically, and Chicago definitely is worthy of its academic reputation, some students complain that being able to read Nietzsche is not a marketable skill. However, the economics department that Chicago is famous for definitely encourages students to go into lucrative fields like investment banking.
The academics are terrific! I feel lucky every day when I go to class. The Core classes emphasis logical thinking and articul...
The academics are terrific! I feel lucky every day when I go to class. The Core classes emphasis logical thinking and articulation in every area of life. As you take these classes, you can feel yourself becoming a person who thinks more rigorously and more insightfully, and who expresses herself better. There will probably be at least one Core class that you are completely uninterested in taking, but even that class will teach you how to think in a new way. The professors are readily available during office hours and by email. They are very interested in making sure you can succeed in the class. However, you must also be very interested in making sure you succeed in class. Classes do require a lot of work. My thought process about homework is usually that although it can be a pain to do, I always want to do it so I can participate in class and get as much out of it as possible. Most other students feel the same way, which leads to great class discussion and participation. These conversations will often spill out outside of class. A side benefit of the Core classes is that with so many students on campus learning the same material, these conversations can occur with almost anyone.
There are two stereotypes of the UChicago student. The more widespread one is that of the geeky nose-in-a-book type whose idea of fun is to power through mathematical proofs. He may also translate obscure Greek poetry for kicks. The second type is the super-hipster, big-sweater wearing, Foucault obsessed kind of kid. He spends much of his time at the cooler coffee shops on campus and thinking deeply while smoking a handrolled cigarette. Neither of these stereotypes is particularly accurate. While classes at UChicago are very demanding, and students certainly experience academic pursuits as fun, most people manage a good balance of schoolwork and social life. As for the second type, it is inevitable that even the ones wearing the skinniest jeans and most ironic t-shirts are individuals with a great deal of depth and diverse interests, just like every other student at UChicago.
The University of Chicago is known, among other things, for its astounding number of associated Nobel Prize winners. These sc...
The University of Chicago is known, among other things, for its astounding number of associated Nobel Prize winners. These scholars and academics have certainly left an impact on the University, and human life, but they are not what affects me on a daily basis. Instead, each day at the UofC I am even more astounded by the brilliance, diversity, and talent of my peers that is truly "prize" worthy. Sure, this University is populated by superior intellectuals that are aces in the classroom, but that is not what amazes me. Rather, what makes this school truly so unique is the unbelievable drive and talent that students here commit to other pursuits, outside of the classroom. I have a friend who is a committed student and a varsity athlete, as well as a concert pianist. Another has just incorporated a start-up that has gained nationwide, and global attention. Another still as a chef, has cooked with some of Chicago's leading restaurant chefs. One might have also caught drift of a number of web start-ups that have gained attention, and sold, from UChicago undergrads. There are chess masters, esteemed playwrights, international youth diplomats, debate champions, Starcraft whizzes, and nationally renowned classicists. Around each corner, and in each classroom seat is another student with another fascinating talent, skill, or lifelong pursuit. This cannot be the case at just any University. This cannot be the case at more than ten colleges nationwide. Combine this stellar student body with its unabated and unrivaled thirst for knowledge, and you find that there is not any place quite like the UofC. It is one of a kind.
As mentioned, the UChicago student body is incredibly diverse and hard to pin down in to many common categories. Many students do not participate in organized student activities, but are incredibly active in their work or personal passion. Many students are RSO(Recognized Student Organization) maniacs, holding leadership positions in multiple student activities. Among our largest student networks would include: Model United Nations, University Theater, A Capella (various groups), investment/consultancy groups, and a wide variety of cultural/ethnic associations. While attendance at varsity athletics is certainly lacking, recent years has seen drastic increase in popularity. Informal athletics, on the other hand, plays a huge part in student life. Over 50% of students participate in intramural sports, and many more play pick-up sports, play club sports, or frequent one of the athletic centers. One essential part of student life on campus is the "House system", that much like in Harry Potter, places students in a residential "House". This house participates in IM sports, takes house trips, and eats together at the dining hall. For many, this is the main source of their social life. Besides these varied forms of "organized" social life, Chicago and the University offers a cornucopia of entertainment options. On campus there are well attended lectures and seminars every day of the week, and student performances galore from theatrical and musical groups. In Chicago, these opportunities are multiplied. Due to the diverse interests of the student body, there is something for anyone here. If you want to be a part of Greek life and frequent fraternities every weekend, you can. If you never want to even see Greek life, and rather see life in Greektown and the rest of Chicago, you can do that to. While there are more popular activities, nothing is held above all else here.
My previous response(opinion of school/stereotype) addresses this question well.
There is perhaps no other school in the United States that has as specific a stereotype as the University of Chicago. Rather than the general opinions of certain types of school, UChicago has been transformed, at least in lore, to a type of its own: "Where Fun Comes to Die". While most reflect on the college years as a time of unabashed excitement and freedom, most also imagine that nothing positive can overcome the soul-crushing workload and cold of the UofC. This, however, is simply not the case. Although one could make the claim that the population here is perhaps a little more invested in the "Life of the Mind" than the average collegian, I would say that the real classification of the UChicago student ends there. As part of our intense investment in intellectual life comes intense investment in all walks of life, many even that can classify as good-ole-traditional fun. Those whom only know the University by rumor would be surprised to know that fun does live here, and in ample and varied opportunities. Yes, some of us are "geeks", but mainly in our commitment to our beloved pursuits: from theater to investment, and everything in between. There are jocks too, but also those who simply love sports. There are frat kids, but also those whom love a different ancient greece. You can find stoners too, and those committed to changing society's "foundations". In short (certainly something foreign to UChicagoan writing), there is perhaps less of a real "type" here than most places. Sure, most come here to be immersed in learning, but that learning is by no means independent, or mutually exclusive, or "fun".
When people think of the University of Chicago, they almost always bring up out school's unofficial motto - "Where fun comes ...
When people think of the University of Chicago, they almost always bring up out school's unofficial motto - "Where fun comes to die". With our strong academics, fast-paced schedule, reputation, and even climate, people get the impression that all we do is work hard and stress out. In realty, of course, life is never that difficult. Like any other school, we have demanding classes and sometimes work long hours, but we also have plenty of fun. There are a number of greek organizations on campus, arts groups, sporting events, concerts, plus a lot of really interesting, unique, kids and, of course, the city of Chicago! Fun is in the eye of the beholder, and most people at UChicago would tell you that if you're open to it, there are tons of opportunities for fun on campus .
I have met more unique, strange, hilarious, and surprising people at this school than I would have thought possible. Where el...
I have met more unique, strange, hilarious, and surprising people at this school than I would have thought possible. Where else could I go to dinner with a Seventh-Day Adventist from Chile, a stuffed animal enthusiast/econ major, a Colombian anarchist, and a South Indian guy in a Jewish a cappella group? I have learned far more about the world and the people in it than I could have dreamed, coming out of small town Ohio. However, these fascinating people are also all brilliant - and, if you allow them to, they will intimidate you academically. Most people at this school come in as HS valedictorians or top students, and very quickly and painful find out, upon withdrawing from their first quarter math class, that their definition of "hard work" needs a reworking (this may or may not be a personal anecdote). However, once you've found your academic niche and can excel in one area, you'll find that you'll begin to enjoy these challenges (or, if you don't, that you're perhaps at the wrong school). The undergraduate population (~5,000 students) is a good size - you recognize a good number of people, but there is a wide enough variety of activity and enough social groups that it does not feel claustrophobic. It is also not so large that you become just a number among thousands. The administration has been working to improve student life on campus (UChicago had very poor student approval in the 80s), and they've added new gym facilities, a career services center, and other student support systems to improve student life. There is some tension between the university and surrounding neighborhoods - Hyde Park is surrounded by very poor neighborhoods and the crime rate is fairly high. Campus police are very vigilant and every attempt is made to ensure student safety, but there is certainly racial and economic tension (a recent controversy broke out when a black student was arrested in the library for refusing to show his ID).
Most students are involved heavily in at least one RSO (registered student organizations). Some of the more popular are the ethnic RSOs such as SASA (South Asian Student Association) and the economics/investing RSOs (such as BlueChips). Students also participate in political RSOs such as College Republicans and SFS (Students for a Free Society), and performing arts RSOs (University Theater, a cappella, UBallet) are also quite popular. I am personally involved in a cappella on campus, having sung in two a cappella groups and currently serving as music director for one of them. Athletic events are generally very poorly attended and school spirit is negligible, and instead the largest crowds are gathered by important speakers and performance arts RSOs. Most friendships are formed in the dorms, as house culture is very strong and you are forced to interact regularly with the same 40-100 people with whom you live. Other friendships are formed in RSOs and in very tight-knit classes and majors (though this is more uncommon). I personally live with and spend most of my time with friends made in the dorms, and other than that mostly hang out with people in my a cappella group. UChicago has a number of traditions (Kuvia, Scav) that occur every year and awaken the dormant school spirit in a large percentage of students, and some consider these events "the ultimate UChicago experience."
Racially the school is broken down like most top-tier schools: mostly white and Asian (including Southeast Asian), with a sprinkling of Hispanic and black students on top. A decent percent of students come from very well-off and well-connected families, and this is especially prominent among foreign students, as they receive no financial aid. However, a good percentage of students also receive financial need-based aid, and so overall there is no one socio-economic majority. The housing system (everyone is required to live in housing first year, and all students are assigned to a house of 40-100 people with whom they live and share a dining table) allows students to mix and form friendships with people they may not have previously interacted with. That being said, racial and cultural groups do form, as they are wont to do anywhere. Students are predominantly left-leaning socially, but there is a strong population of fiscal conservatives on campus and the College Republicans RSO (registered student organization) is one of the best funded RSOs on campus.
Like most other schools, beginning science and math classes and intro classes are often large lectures, while classes in the humanities and more advanced are generally smaller discussions with professors seemingly more invested in your input and success. As a English/Romance Languages major (who dabbled in Linguistics and Arabic), I am more used to the latter, though the majority of my friends are in the former category and so I have a general idea of how class size/individualized attention works in most majors. I have personally found most professors extremely accomodating and invested in your success, though this is less true of professors teaching some of the Core sequences. Sosc and Hum sequences (part of the Core that everyone has to take to graduate) form a common intellectual ground for people to begin intellectual debates and discussions (knowing that your conversational partner has likely read Marx and Adam Smith helps facilitate such things). Other Core sequences, like Physical Science classes, are generally more of a pain, and most people complain that these requirements are silly and unnecessary. Some students even have to take Physical Education classes (your requirements as far as that goes are determined during O-week swim and P.E. tests). Over all the school's academic requirements in terms of classes needed to graduate are reasonable, even if workloads in some of those classes aren't. Very few majors prepare you for a job straight out of school (as most majors are highly theoretical), and most students intend to eventually further their education in graduate or professional schools before beginning their careers.
I'm not going to lie - there is some truth to UChicago's unofficial motto ("where fun comes to die"). Most students care very much about their academics, and many RSOs (registered student organizations) on campus are largely related to academic and career ambitions. However, not all students are, as a result, socially awkward and unable to "party." A good time is had by most, though the definition of that good time varies depending on your social circles and, honestly, on your dorm. The dorms at this school have reputations, and while not all who inhabit them fit into these stereotypes, they are there for a reason. Max P is unofficially the "jock dorm," filled with students on the school's athletic teams. It is also, as a result, one of the more notoriously social and drinking-focused of the dorms. South Campus houses 800 students and also has a fairly strong party culture, as over half of the dorm is first years. On the other end of the spectrum are Snell-Hitchcock and BJ, both of which are regarded as the more nerdy and "UChicago strange." Both of these dorms participate heavily in Scav (a large yearly scavenger hunt), and their definition of fun is generally closer to the board game/intellectual discussion side of the spectrum. I don't mean to say that your dorm determines your social status however - you will find like-minded people wherever you go, be it to a frat party or to the Starcraft club's weekly meeting.
UChicago students generally classify themselves as "anti-social" because they put coursework, work-work, and extracurriculars...
UChicago students generally classify themselves as "anti-social" because they put coursework, work-work, and extracurriculars over hanging out and socializing. The University of Chicago is one of the most rigorous universities in the country, and it's also really self-selective, which means the students who come here want to study hard and slave over papers. Call it masochism or dedication, but whatever it is, it leads to a smaller emphasis on social life. However, in terms of my own experience, I have had much richer social life at college than in high school. Like I mentioned earlier, UChicago is self-selective, meaning that the students who come here are more alike than different. As a result, people who are normally anti-social actually become more social, participating in quirky and/or intellectual activities like Scav (the largest scavenger hunt in the world), Icelandic calisthenics at 4 in the morning, intellectual debates over Durkheim and Hegel, Humans v. Zombies, etc. As a student a student here, I've made most of my friends through House activities and student organizations. I am currently dramaturging for a Beowulf dance show for University Theater's "Apocalypse" entry in the Festival of the Arts, which allows me to connect with quirky, smart people who share my interests and therefore don't question my choices.
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